Constance Overalls Will Be Constant Companions
My new Constance Overalls designed by Fibre Mood (@fibremood on Instagram) will be my constant companions. It's only been less than 24 hours since I finished making them, but I can tell that they will be wardrobe workhorses for me.
I cannot fault anything in the drafting. The pieces all came together perfectly in perfect proportion for me. I love overalls but my experience with them is that I always have to adjust something so that they are not too roomy. These Constance Overalls fit so well, they feel like a nicely tailored pair of pants with just enough ease for comfort. See how they wrap around my tushy so flatteringly?
These are a pair of overalls with a classic cut and classic details: slightly tapered leg, front pant pockets sewn into the side seams, 3 buttons for each of the side seam openings, large front pocket, generous sized back bib, and a back yoke. The notions required are 8 denim buttons and a pair of overalls buckles for the straps to attach to the front bib. Since I used a medium/heavy weight non-stretch denim, I added some rivets to secure the corners of the front bib pocket and the back pockets of the back legs.
The sizing for the pattern runs from EU 32-54, or UK 4-26. The most important measurement for the overalls is the hip measurement. I fall into size 34 according to the sizing chart with my hips measuring at 90cm. The measurement chart of the garment shows that it would leave me about 7cm of ease at the hips. Initially, I thought this would leave too much room, but these suspicions were unfounded. The space is needed for comfortable sitting. So I'm really glad that I didn't make any adjustments when cutting out the fabric. The opening is placed at the side seams, and the seam allowances for the pants are 1cm wide which makes for a narrow space for adjustments. The only thing I forgot to do at the cutting stage was to adjust the length for my height. I had to chop off about 2 1/2'' from the hem later, which was a silly mistake on my part.
The drafting gets a grade A from me, but the instructions are a grade B. I bought the pdf digital pattern individually through the website, so what I say here may not be true in the printed patterns or magazines. The level of sewing is rated 3 out of 5 stars, so this pattern is definitely not aimed at beginners, and one definitely needs some experience for the skills required. Also, there were a couple of mistakes in the instructions that a beginner might not be able to catch.
For example, it says to cut out the pocket bag and bottom pocket bag pieces out of the interfacing instead of the lining. This is probably a pure typo.
Second, the bottom of front and back waistbands are indicated with a 3/8'' (1cm) seam allowance in the pattern pieces. However, when you arrive at sewing the outer waistbands to the front and back pants respectively, the instructions say to sew with a 5/8'' (1.5cm) seam allowance. This is at step 7c and 8c of the instruction booklet. This discrepancy stumped me for a bit. The inner waistbands get attached from the front by sewing in the ditch of the outer waistband, so it makes some sense that the seam allowance is wider in the outer waistband to accommodate for this. But 5/8''(1.5cm) seam allowance would make the outer waistband a tad too skinny, and the inner waistband unwieldy. So I adjusted the seam allowance of attaching the outer waistbands to the the pants to 4/8'' instead, which turned out better for proportion, and you can still catch the inner waistband when sewing in the ditch. Phew, I hope all of that made sense.
The instructions are missing some reinforcement with interfacing, especially at button and buttonhole locations. This was as little strange to me especially when the recommended fabric for the pattern is corduroy, and some corduroy have a fair bit of mechanical stretch on the crossgrain. So I applied strips or squares of interfacing at these places, even though I was using denim. You may want to consider doing the same to the top border of the front bib, the side seam openings and waistbands where the buttons and buttonholes are placed. If I was using corduroy (which I will do for my second pair of Constance Overalls), I would also interface the whole length of the outer waistbands of the front and back.
In addition, lining for the front and back bibs, and the straps are not included in the instructions. I did it on my own initiative because these pieces have to be strengthened in my opinion.
Perhaps it's a matter of preference, but I learned the hard way with another pair of (corduroy) overalls that didn't suggest any lining, and the bibs are being pulled out of shape from the wear and weight. To protect the embroidery, I had a second reason for lining the bibs, but I would have lined them anyway even if I didn't have any embroidery to protect. And I don't like open seams (even if the edges are overlocked) on the straps. The constant chafing on the buckle would cause eventual wear later on. I lined the straps are lined with the denim, and the bibs are lined with scraps from a peacock feather print by Robert Kaufman.
The placement of the back pockets are too far off to the side for my taste, and made my derriere look 3 times wider than it actually is. Be smarter than I was and check the placement for you before sewing them on. This will save you some time with the seam ripper. I moved them at least 3/4'' closer to centre back. Next time, I think I can afford to move them a full inch towards the centre:
I suggest sewing the front and back inner leg seam first before sewing up the front and back side seams of the legs. The instructions suggest the reverse order. Sewing the inner seam first allows one the option to topstitch the seam towards the front (for a faux flat-felled seam) easily and comfortably. In addition, it leaves the possibility for tweaking the final fitting adjustments at the side seams if required. I usually like basting the side seams for a fitting, and make some tweaks before I sew them on permanently. In this case, I decided to sew a 1/2'' seam allowance instead of the recommended 3/8''. This brought the buttonhole flap to align better with the side seam.
Finally, I added topstitching - way more than what the instructions suggested. I would do this even if I was using a fabric other than denim, because I am a topstitching maniac. For a single topstitching line, I do it 1/8'' from the seam. For double topstitching, I usually top stitch 1/8'' from the seam, and then 1/4'' from the first topstitching line. How the topstitching should be spaced wasn't specified it the instructions as well, so you can take a look at my overalls for reference. I double topstitched the faux fly on the centre front seam, and the inner leg seam. I added a single topstitching line all around the waistbands. I also topstitched a single line on the side seams up to the bottom of the the pockets, then bar-tacked for reinforcement.
The most satisfying part of the sew is putting the front side pockets together. The construction of them is made up of three pattern pieces - the front pocket with the buttonholes, the back pocket with the buttons and the bottom pocket lining. Very clever! I ran out of the peacock feather print so I had to use another Robert Kaufman to line the front pockets.
For a more detailed description of the sashiko embroidery that I did on my Constance Overalls, you can go to my previous blog post here. It was a joy making this project, designing the sashiko and slowly putting the pieces together stitch by stitch. This is my entry to #rainbowsewing2020 on Instagram, and it's my way of celebrating Pride 2020 in these social distancing times. Happy Pride to all! Big love to the LGBTQIA+ community!